More than 309 000 tourists travelled to SA during June and July for the Soccer World Cup, spending R3,6bn during the six-week tournament, Tourism Minister Marthinus van Schalkwyk said yesterday.
The findings of a survey done by the Department of Tourism and SA Tourism, were published yesterday.
Fans stayed an average of 10,3 nights and Gauteng, the Western Cape and KwaZulu-Natal were the most visited provinces. The largest number of visitors came from the US, with 30000 fans, followed by Mozambique with 24000 visitors and the UK with 22000 visitors.
The World Cup boosted overall arrivals, with those between January and September reaching 5-9-million, up 16,8% year on year.
"The World Cup was a resounding success," said Mr van Schalkwyk. "After a year of hard work the world watched in awe, after much criticism in the lead-up to the tournament, as SA hosted one of the most successful tournaments. The tournament was worth every cent and every minute that was invested in it."
While dozens of figures were bandied about during and in the weeks after the tournament, this is the first considered and researched report to be published.
"Many of the figures showed overall arrival numbers but these figures only include those that came for the World Cup. These figures have been cleaned up by various departments and we are confident in the integrity of the data," said Mr van Schalkwyk.
Roshene Singh, chief marketing officer of SA Tourism, said many fans were first-time visitors , particularly from the US, where 92% of travellers had never visited SA before .
Almost 90% of World Cup visitors said they would visit again while 96% said they would recommend a visit to friends and family. More than half of those who had been to other World Cups — 20% of all those surveyed — said this was the best tournament they had attended.
Mr van Schalkwyk said the World Cup was a vital building block in the tourism sector. "The World Cup really enhanced the image of SA and we see promising signs in the forward booking in the first quarter of next year."
The departments of t ourism and s port were still identifying tournaments and sports events SA would bid for in the future, he said. The process would be managed by the n ational c onvention b ureau, due to be set up early next year.
The Olympics was on the government’s radar but no decision had been taken, Mr van Schalkwyk said. "We are still assembling the facts and it is still early in the process.
"However, in our discussions we will have to look at benefits of hosting an event that essentially takes place in one city ," rather than many.
My note: I saw the comments David Goldblatt made to ESPN before the Nelson Mandela Challenge, and would like to express my strongest disagreement with his uninformed opinions.